Exclusive Rough Draft Excerpt!
Please note that the following excerpt is an unproofed, unedited rough draft of a work in progress that is currently being completed. Some scenes may change in the final version.
Andi had to fight not to play with her phone in her pocket, and said a silent prayer that its recording app was still running. Could it hear her Uncle clearly? Why hadn’t she thought to check it at home? Why had none of her Uncle’s men searched her? Was the fact that she didn’t smell like dragon enough?
How sure was she that she didn’t smell like dragon, and wasn’t putting Damian in danger now?
“Are you finally ready to listen, niece?” her uncle asked the second she’d sat down.
“Yes. Assuming you’re finally ready to tell me the truth, uncle,” she said spitefully.
He gave her a pained smile and sat down across from her. “I think the first thing I should tell you is, I really am your uncle, Andrea.”
Andi frowned. She’d been surrounded by ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ since she was born, and she’d always known none of them were actually related to her. If she could believe he was really telling the truth, then it made knowing he was a deliberate murderer – a Hunter of sentient, otherworldly creatures – even more painful.
“Your mother and I were siblings. We were orphaned after the Shaanxi earthquake in 1556.” He paused to let the date sink in as Andi did the math.
“You mean to tell me you’re over four-hundred years old?”
“Four-hundred-sixty-four, to be precise. Your mother only made it to four-hundred-sixty-one.”
Andi opened her mouth to say, I don’t believe you, but after seeing her mother’s photo album, she wasn’t sure anymore. “Go on,” she said, crossing her arms.
“The chaos after the earthquake – it was phenomenal. They say now that eight hundred thousand people died. All we knew was that our village was wiped out. The few that survived – it wasn’t that people didn’t want to help one another, so much as that they couldn’t. We were just two more small hungry mouths to feed. Everyone was desperately trying to get by.” He brought a pipe and a silver match holder out of his pocket, both highly engraved, and took his time lighting his pipe while Andi waited. He sucked in a breath through the pipe’s stem, then released it in a cloud of familiar smoke out at her before continuing.
“We were, quite frankly, about to die. I went into the wilds, fully expecting to not return. My arms were the size of this pipe bowl,” he said, gesturing it at her. “I could see the cut of your mother’s cheeks below her eyes. There was nothing left for us, not in the world, and not for our stomachs.” He took another long draw on his pipe.
“And then?” Andi prompted.
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